Sunday, July 14, 2013

Minnesota Meets New York City - Part 2


"Owwww," I moaned as my eyes opened and I looked at the clock. Why am I awake at 3:00 AM? I thought to myself before the rumbling in my stomach started again. Ugh. I guess that's why. I turned over and tried to get comfortable in an attempt to ignore last night's pancakes that were fighting back, but it was no use. For almost three hours I tried to talk myself out of getting sick, "Please make this stop. Not today. Just get me through today." But it was no use. At 5:45 AM, only 15 minutes before my alarm was supposed to go off, I was urgently running to the bathroom. No wonder Dylan messed his pants at the concert. There was virtually no warning for what was about to happen. I sat there in agony, holding back tears as nausea led to dizziness and turned into uncontrollable shakes. How the Hell am I gonna be able to leave to get Lily and Jason in an hour? How will I sit through all of the meetings at the clinic? Oh no! How will I be able to walk around New York City with them then eat dinner and enjoy a Broadway show?

I finished up and crawled back into bed just as our alarms were simultaneously ringing. Jimmi slammed the snooze button. "I'm dying," I whined. He jumped up with concern, "What's wrong?" "Either the pancakes last night didn't like me or I caught whatever Dylan had on Sunday," Truthfully, I think I'd been fighting off Dylan's evil virus all week, but it may have finally caught up to me. "Are you throwing up?" Jimmi asked. "Other end," I explained without having to go into any detail. "Well, we're gonna have to cancel today, then." That was NOT an option. "We can't do that! They're here and we have everything set up and we have show tickets!" Jimmi wasn't convinced, "How are you gonna get through it all?" I really had no idea, "I'll be fine in a little while." I don't know if I was trying to convince him or myself because I really didn't feel like I would be fine.

I waited as long as I could before getting out of bed on shaky legs and stumbling to the shower. I was shivering and dizzy and I hoped the warm water would work some sort of miracle on me. My stomach continued it's symphony and I barely made it out of the shower before I was called back to the throne again.

This can't be happening.

I finished getting dressed and covered my cheeks with extra bronzer to mimic the color that had drained from my face. I slowly walked downstairs and immediately fell to the couch. I knew better than to try and make deals with God to let me feel better because, as I've mentioned before, He still hates me. We had to leave in five minutes or we'd be late picking Lily and Jason up to bring them to the clinic for their 8:00 AM blood and urine tests, meeting with the nurse and meeting with the social worker. But then I had an idea. I called to Jimmi, "You and I don't actually need to be there for our meetings until nine-thirty. Can you go and pick them up and I'll meet you there in a bit?" He agreed on the plan and headed out the door. I stayed on the couch for a few minutes but my bed seemed like a better option. As I walked back up the stairs I was thankful for the extra hour and a half I'd gained. The reason Jimmi and I didn't need blood and urine tests is because we did all of that when our embryos were frozen two years ago. I reset my alarm for 8:15 AM and texted Lily, "Hey. Jimmi is on his way to pick you up. I'll meet you later. I don't think the pancakes liked me too much." And then I was off to dreamland.

The gurgling woke me about 40 minutes later and I didn't know which end would win the race this time, though, if I had any choice at all, I hoped for the south side. I called my mom, "I'm so sick, Mommy." After explaining my symptoms she instructed me to get apple juice and Imodium on my way to the clinic. "Don't eat anything heavy. Stick to soups and juice and nothing else." I'd be lucky if I could eat anything at all. After one more trip to the Porcelain Goddess I started feeling a tiny bit better. The dizziness and shaking had eased and I didn't feel like I was about to die anymore. I got into the car and headed straight to Rite Aid to purchase the goods Dr. Mom had suggested, plus a box of anti-nausea chewables. Once I was back in the car I opened the apple juice and downed two Imodium tablets that got stuck in my throat and almost ended my life right then and there.

Today was not my day.

I swung by Lily and Jason's hotel to pick up Jimmi since he was going to leave his car there for the day. A few minutes later we pulled up to the fertility clinic. I popped a piece of gum to settle my stomach, just as I'd done when I was pregnant or going through chemo, and into the building we went. This was our first time at the clinic's new location and I was taken aback by the size of the waiting room. "Wow, it's so much bigger than the last office." I announced to the receptionist as I signed in. "I know! Nice, isn't it?" she said with a smile. After signing in I remembered to ask, "Oh, I need to fill out forms to change my last name in the system. We weren't married yet the last time we were here." The receptionist handed me a sheet of paper to correct the information and a neurotic thought crossed my mind, "So, when I change my name you'll know to change the label on our embryos too, right? I'd hate to end up with the wrong kid." She laughed and assured me everything would be changed.

Jimmi and I sat down and waited for our first meeting with the nurse coordinator. I was actually feeling ok, minus a fleeting wave of nausea here and there. Nurse J came to get us a few minutes later than our scheduled time and apologized that she was still trying to get back into the swing of things, "This is my first day back from vacation. I apologize." She got out her paperwork and started to explain the process of using a gestational carrier. "Lily and Jason are great," she complimented during the conversation. "How long did it take for Tara to find them for you?" I giggled, "About twelve hours." Her jaw dropped and I remembered I wanted to tell her something else, "By the way, Agency A sucks. You should stop referring people to them." I immediately though I was a little too harsh until I saw her nodding her head in agreement. "I know," she said. "We reject carriers they send us ALL the time." At least I wasn't the only one who'd had a bad experience.

The meeting continued with an overview of everything that Lily would need to do that day, including the aforementioned blood and urine tests for communicable diseases and drugs, an ultrasound to check out her uterus, a meeting with the social worker and a psychological evaluation. Jimmi and I would meet with the social worker and then we'd all meet with her together to discuss any "uncomfortable" issues that might arise. The topic then turned to the medication Lily would need to take, mostly by way of self injections, before the embryo transfer and right up to about nine or ten weeks of pregnancy, if the transfer is successful. Sounded awful and I was once again reminded of everything Lily was willing to put her body through just so we could have a baby.

Totally selfless. Completely amazing.

And then Nurse J turned the page and started to discuss our frozen babies. "Looks like you have some lovely embryos," she remarked. "And, honestly, I was shocked when I saw how many eggs you had. Sixteen is A LOT! And you were thirty-six, right?" I nodded. "Seriously, that's a number we'd expect from a twenty year-old egg donor!" Jimmi turned to me, "I told you they were impressed after they took them out!" He looked back at Nurse J and pointed to me, "She was disappointed because she didn't think that was a lot." I added, "But we only ended up with twelve embryos!" Nurse J laughed, "Twelve is a lot! Most people have like two or three if they're lucky!" Ok, fine. I'll shut up. "Ok, you had PGD testing so we know their chromosomes are all fine. Did they tell you the sexes?" she asked. "Yup!" I exclaimed. "Six boys and six girls and since I have two boys already, we really want to use the girls first!" She was a little surprised, "Wow. Ok, you do know a lot. Girls first. No problem." She said as she took notes. Then I asked, "Are the girls good quality embryos?" I had heard recently that there is an embryo grading system which can help determine which ones will be more likely to implant when transferred, but I didn't really know the details. "Yes they are," she replied. "As I said before, you have lovely embryos. We grade them from A to D, A is the best, just like in school. Then there's also a number grade given to them to see how far they've expanded. That goes from one to six, but anything from four to six is great. Yours are all As and Bs and fours and fives." Then she paused to read, "Wait, you do have two Cs. Oh, but they're boys so it doesn't matter. And, truthfully, Cs aren't really that bad either." I was such a proud mommy! My kids were already A and B students at just a few cells!

"So, tell me," I said as my next paranoid question came to mind. "Do they ever make a mistake when they mix the sperm and the egg?" Nurse J looked confused. I explained myself, "Like, has there ever been a mistake in the lab where they accidentally mix the wrong sperm with the wrong egg? I'm so scared the kid will come out and be like half black or something. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but clearly it wouldn't be genetically ours." She shook her head and laughed, "No. That can't happen. There are so many checks in place in our lab. Like ten people have to check and double check everything before it's mixed. Don't worry!" Hey, I've read the news stories! I know it can happen! But I decided to drop the discussion unless the baby does, in fact, come out Asian or something. "So have you and Lily discussed a timeframe for the transfer," Nurse J asked, breaking me out of my crazy mind. "We're hoping for the last week of August, if possible." She looked a bit worried, "Hmmm. We can try, but I know we shut down for four weeks in the summer so we can't start new cycles during that time. I'll have to check into that. As soon as their blood work comes back next week, as long as everything is ok, we can put you on the schedule. But contracts will need to be signed before Lily starts any medications." Tara had mentioned that to me before. "Yes, our attorney has already sent a draft to Lily's attorney, so we should have a signed contract soon." Nurse J looked impressed, "Wow. You are on top of everything! Ok, well, if you don't have any more questions, I think that's all I have to...wait!" Uh-oh. I don't like when someone's about to tell me everything is set and then suddenly they remember something. She continued, "There is one minor issue. Technically, the FDA considers your embryos ineligible for transfer into an outside party, so we need to ask Lily to sign a waiver agreeing to carry them anyway." Ummmm...WHAT?! "Wait, what? I thought you said we have 'lovely embryos' with excellent grades! Why are they ineligible? I don't have ovaries anymore! I can't produce more eggs!" I was starting to get a little bit hysterical. "Don't worry!" Nurse J said calmly, "It's no big deal. Happens all the time, actually. When you originally froze them two years ago, Jimmi wrote on the paperwork that he'd gotten tattoos in January and February of that year. Your embryos were made in May, but the FDA usually requires a full year after a tattoo before they'll consider the genetic material safe. It's really dumb and it's just one piece of paper to sign. It's no big deal. And, looking at Jimmi, I can't imagine he's ever gone a year without getting a tattoo anyway!" She was right about that one. Now I just had to hope my husband's ink obsession didn't cost us our carrier.

When we finally finished up with Nurse J we were escorted into the social worker's office to talk about how to keep the relationship with our carrier open so our nine-month journey would be a pleasant one. "Lily and Josh are just the sweetest couple," she said. "I know," I agreed. "We got really lucky." She looked over her files and asked, "What's this about wanting girls?" I explained, "I have two boys from my first marriage so we'd really like a girl, if possible." She turned to Jimmi, "Is that ok with you?" she asked. Jimmi grinned, "Yup. I'll just need to get myself a shotgun a shovel and a rocking chair to wait on the porch when she starts bringing guys home!" We all laughed as Jimmi's joke broke the ice and the conversation flowed from there. I told her that Lily and I already talk every day, so I really didn't see a problem with the lines of communication staying open during a resulting pregnancy. She insisted that we should make it a point to call each other once a week and not rely solely on texting or e-mail because tone is lost in electronic conversation. She also warned against becoming Facebook friends since we might want to have a life that is kept private from our carrier. "We're already Facebook friends," I explained. "We talked about it before requesting each other and neither of us has anything to hide. We're both very open about this process and all of our friends and families know it's happening. I have nothing to keep from her." The social worker nodded and then told us a story of a couple who became Facebook friends with their carrier. When the carrier was a few months pregnant, the intended mother saw a photo on Facebook of the carrier at a bridal shower with a martini glass in her hand. The carrier insisted it was only ginger ale in the glass but the intended mother couldn't be sure. They didn't speak for the rest of the pregnancy unless it was through their attorneys. I wasn't quite sure why she told us that story, but I said, "Honestly, I don't see anything like that happening with Lily. I just get an all-around positive vibe from her. I'm really not worried." She nodded, "I tend to agree with you about her, but I'm just letting you know that things happen sometimes." Ok, lady, move on. "Ok, next question," she said. "Do you have any dietary restrictions you'd like Lily to follow?" This was a difficult question because, as much as I'd love for her to eat an entirely organic diet without any junk food, I needed to be realistic. I mean, when I was pregnant with my kids the only thing I could keep down for the first few months was fast food. And I HATE fast food! "Honestly, as long as she doesn't eat the foods that are considered dangerous during pregnancy, I trust that she'll be smart about what she puts into her body." She started to write, "Ok, so no raw fish or soft cheeses or the others that her OB will warn her about. Anything else?" I thought for a minute, "I'd prefer she didn't drink diet soda. I don't like the idea of the artificial sweeteners." She wrote that down. "Ok, last question. How do you feel about triplets? I know you're only planning on transferring two embryos, but sometimes they split." I looked at Jimmi who was shaking his head and actually starting to sweat then I answered, "Unless there's a medical reason, I don't think I'd be able to reduce one." The social worker got very serious as she explained the increased risk of serious problems for both the carrier and the babies when triplets are conceived. The chance of death is greater and there is a high probability that the babies would be born at 27 or 28 weeks, weighing just a pound each, and spend months in the NICU. In the end we agreed that, in the off chance triplets resulted, we would choose to reduce to twins. I'm praying we will never have to make that call.

When we finished with the social worker we headed back to the waiting room to hang out until Lily was done with her ultrasound and mock transfer. My stomach was holding up surprisingly well and I decided to eat part of a bagel while we waited. Lily and Jason came out a few minutes later. "How did it go?" I asked. "It was ok. I didn't really like the doctor, though. He didn't communicate what he was doing very well and I don't think he washed his hands before he touched me." EEEWWWWW!! We'll make a note to request one of the other doctors for the transfer. Then I remembered, "Oh! Did you sign off on our ineligible embryos?" I was happy to see Lily nodding that she had. "So what else did you have to do aside from the ultrasound and blood tests?" I asked. Lily replied, "We had to take a psychological exam with like a hundred and forty questions!" "For real? What did they ask you?" I was curious. Lily giggled, "I think the weirdest one was, 'In your spare time do you enjoy stamp-collecting and archery?'." What? "Really?" I asked, completely confused as to why those two hobbies would be associated with each other. "How did you answer that?" Jason laughed, "I said 'sometimes'!"

The social worker came to get us for our group meeting and we all sat in a circle. We discussed the triplet fiasco and keeping the lines of communication open. Then we got to the food issue. "Lily, Suzanne mentioned that she'd prefer that you don't drink diet soda during the pregnancy. How do you feel about that?" I saw Lily's face drop and I realized there might be a problem, "I drink one can of Diet Coke every day." There was silence until the social worker spoke again, "Are you able to drink something else during the pregnancy?" My brain started going a mile a minute, wondering if one can of diet soda a day would really do that much damage to my unborn baby when 50 years ago pregnant women drank alcohol and smoked and gave birth to perfectly healthy children. Lily responded, "I did it with both of my kids and also when I carried my cousin's baby. They're all fine." Is it really that big of a deal? I thought to myself. "It's really only one can a day?" I asked. Josh answered as Lily nodded, "It's only one. And sometimes she doesn't even finish it." I nodded, "It's fine. I have no problem with that."

We finished with the social worker and Jimmi and I met with the financial coordinator for a few minutes then we were finally free to go. After a quick meeting with my mom and dad, who were dying to hug the couple who would help give them more grandkids, we were on our way to New York City! Since Lily and Jason had never been to this part of the country before, I decided to try and show them as much as we could in a few short hours. "We're taking you to Liberty State Park so you can see The Statue of Liberty," I said as we drove down the NJ Turnpike. When we got out of the car the humidity was almost suffocating but we started walking toward the large, green Lady anyway. Lily was snapping photos along the way and I realized how much I take for granted living so close to the monument. We got to the edge of the water and stared at The Statue's back. Since we weren't actually on Ellis Island we couldn't see her front side, but it didn't seem to matter to Lily and Jason. This was more of her than they ever thought they'd see. We walked down the path and finally found a someone who spoke English and asked them to take our picture in front of Lady Liberty, then we headed back to the car and the air conditioning. The heat didn't help my stomach at all and I chewed a couple of anti-nausea pills, followed by some gum, then we were off to NYC.

As we drove I pointed out The Empire State Building in the skyline. When we got to The Lincoln Tunnel I explained that they needed to watch the wall for the New Jersey/New York sign because that was the state line. "So what's over the tunnel?" Lily asked when we were almost halfway through. "The Hudson River," I responded. She seemed surprised, "So I guess it would be bad if we got stuck down here?" That's an understatement! "Here comes the sign!" I announced while pointing at the wall. "Hey! I've officially been to New York," Jason said with his face beaming. And once again I realized I really need to appreciate living so close to these places.

We parked the car in the garage outside the tunnel and started walking down 42nd Street, headed for Times Square. I could feel my stomach getting angry again and I hoped that ignoring it would make it chill out. Once again, I pointed out The Empire State Building, though it was much closer and much bigger this time. There were people buzzing all around us and sirens and car horns were blaring in our ears. It was nothing new to me but I turned to see the overwhelmed look on Jason's face, "Everything's going so fast. I'm trying to take it all in." He said. I tried to imagine how different this city must be from a place like Minneapolis, but since I've never been there, it was hard to picture. I hoped it wasn't too much for them.

We finally made it to Times Square and they were bombarded by street solicitors offering them passes to comedy shows. They held their own and knew not to stop and answer questions about where they were from and what their plans were that night. We turned and walked up Broadway and I showed them where the ball drops on New Year's Eve and where MTV Networks is located. Then we went across the street to the famous Toys r Us with a ferris wheel, a life-sized animatronic T-rex and a walk-in Barbie Dream House inside. The heat was really getting to me and I told Jimmi I'd catch up as I searched the store for a bathroom. Please just let me get through this day, I pleaded with the Health God. I found my group a few minutes later and Jason and Lily were looking for gifts for their kids. "I hope my stomach chills out or it's not gonna be pretty," I whispered to Jimmi. He gave me a sympathetic frown and we trucked on. "Look!" I called out a minute later. Jimmi turned to see me pointing to a purple box with Disney princesses all over it and words that read, "Royal Drum and Sticks." Inside the box was a pink drum with the same princesses on it and two small, pink drum sticks. "Who's that for?" Jimmi asked. I stared at him with a cheshire cat grin, "Our baby!" Jason laughed, "Now you have to buy it!" And that's what we did! Jimmi walked the tiny drum up to the register and bought our unborn child her very first present. I can't even describe the warm tingles that traveled through my entire body at that moment. And, no, it wasn't the nausea!

With a trip to a t-shirt shop and a stop at the M&M's Store under our belt, we were finally on our way to dinner at the famous Sardi's. My stomach was really bothering me at that point and I couldn't wait to sit down. We were seated immediately and I searched the menu for anything I would consider appetizing. As the moments passed it felt as if a giant ball of pain was growing right in the center of my abdomen. I tried so had to talk and be cheery but it was getting more and more difficult to do so. "What are you having?" I asked Lily. She told me her choice and I asked if she wanted an appetizer. The look of confusion on her face told me that food before food might not be something she and Jason were accustom to, so I opened the menu to the first page and showed her the choices. "Get whatever you want," I insisted. She started to read, then pointed to the fresh mozzarella and sliced tomato option. "Is that mozzarella sticks?" she asked. Again I was forced to realize how much I take for granted where I live. In New York and New Jersey fresh mozzarella cheese is a staple on the menu. In Minnesota it's probably unheard of. "No, it's actually the mozzarella before it becomes a stick," I explained. Lily looked confused so I offered, "Jimmi's gonna order it. You can try some of his." When it was time to place our orders I decided on a steamed vegetable basket with a side of brown rice in the hopes that I'd be able to eat a little bit of the rice, but I wasn't hopeful as the pain ball continued to take over my stomach.

Jimmi's first course was delivered to the table and Lily asked, "What's that?" I told her, "That's the mozzarella. Try some." Jimmi cut each of them a slice and I watched as Lily took her first bite and then her second. "Do you like it?" I questioned. She nodded, "It's ok." She said. Then she looked up and asked, "So this is basically just a hunk o' cheese?" I laughed out loud and nodded, "I'm totally writing that down so I can use it in my blog!" A few minutes later our meals came out. The steamer basket of vegetables was placed in front of me and the waiter lifted the lid. The sight and smell of the food almost made me gag and I pushed it away promptly. I moved the bowl of rice closer to me and attempted to put a forkful into my mouth. It was like forcing down rocks. It tasted good but it was so hard to swallow it. I put my fork down and just sat there pleading with the Health God again. But as the minutes passed I grew sicker and sicker and quieter and quieter. I tried to plan out an emergency path to the bathroom just in case, but since it was upstairs, it wouldn't be an easy run. Just then Lily excused herself and went up to use the bathroom. She came back a few minutes later shaking her head, "There's a women in there pumping soap and handing you towels. I think she wanted me to tip her but I didn't bring my money up there." Great. A bathroom attendant. Just what I need when I'm about to head up there and make some ungodly noises. "Are you ok?" Jason suddenly asked me. I guess the fact that I wasn't eating at all and I hadn't spoken in about ten minutes made it pretty obvious, "Not really. I'm not feeling well again." I excused myself and made my way up to the bathroom where I was greeted by the soap-pumping, towel-dispensing, privacy-stealing attendant. A few minutes later I was back at the table trying to force down the rice again, but it was hopeless. The food was cleared and Jimmi and Jason ordered dessert.

In a desperate attempt to feel better, I chewed a few more anti-nausea pills and within seconds the pain ball felt like it was breaking up. Dessert came and Lily asked Jimmi, "What is that?" He smiled, "It's tiramisu. Here, try it!" And he dished out a little to each of them. "But what is it?" she asked again. I explained, "It's lady fingers dipped in espresso and mascarpone cheese." She shook her head, "What the heck is a lady finger?!" We all laughed and I felt the pain ball continue to break down in my stomach. Little by little my body was starting to feel normal again. I was able to join back into the conversation and Jason noticed right away, "You must be feeling better." I smiled, "Did my color come back?" I asked. "You never lost your color," he assured me, "You just got very quiet." It only took one meeting for him to realize that I am NEVER quiet unless I'm sick. Very perceptive.

We finished dinner and walked one block to the theater where we were going to see the play, Once. I had originally planned on taking them to see Wicked, but changed my mind last minute because I thought Jimmi and Jason would like the music better in Once. I immediately started kicking myself for that decision as soon as the tickets were purchased. Don't get me wrong, Once is a great show with beautiful music. But it's VERY tame. There's absolutely nothing spectacular about the sets or the costumes and there aren't any special effects. I consider it a show for Broadway regulars who know what the theater is all about and don't mind a calm performance every now and then. Wicked encompasses all that Broadway is meant to be. I should've gone with my first instincts. But, hopefully this won't be Lily and Jason's last trip to The Big Apple and I'll have another opportunity to show them another side of Broadway. Our seats were very close and right in the center of the stage. Throughout the show I could hear Jason laughing loudly at each amusing line and I relaxed a bit knowing that he was clearly enjoying the performance.

When it was all over we walked back to the car in the cool night air. "Awhile ago I did this test on Facebook about how I would die," Lily started. "It said I would be murdered in Times Square," she laughed. I giggled, "Well I guess it was wrong!" As we drove home we talked and laughed and still never had any moments of awkward silence. We pulled up to the hotel and hugs flew all around then Jimmi and I got back into the car and headed back to our house.


There isn't any other word to describe the trip as a whole. It was a complete and total success. Yes, we had a few bumps in the road with flights and stomachaches, but all in all it was amazing. I don't know if there is a God, but it's clear that a higher being led us to Lily and Jason. They are absolutely everything we were hoping to find when we set out on our search for the perfect oven for our bun.

And now the countdown begins. Just a few more steps to go before Baby Kane comes out of the freezer and starts baking!


  1. congrats!
    goosebumps for you!!!

  2. You are a trooper (as usual)!! Congrats on your amazing introduction-- and the start of this phenomenal journey!! We love you!